Termination of Alimony upon Death or Remarriage

Spousal Support Attorney Assisting Bergen County Residents

As alimony can be reduced, modified or terminated upon a showing of changed circumstances, ex-spouses need to know exactly what changed circumstances may lead to a termination of alimony. Whether you are the spouse who is paying alimony, or the alimony recipient, you may have questions about what set of facts will lead to the end of alimony payments. Regardless of which side you are on, the fact is that under current law—in which permanent alimony has essentially been discarded—termination of alimony is likely to occur at some point. For a payor and a payee ex-spouse, having knowledge of termination events is necessary in order to plan for the future. Two of the occasions upon which termination is common are upon the death of either of the ex-spouses, or upon the remarriage of the recipient spouse. For guidance in these types of situations, contact Bergen County alimony lawyer Brian D. Iton. Mr. Iton helps residents of Northern New Jersey understand and protect their rights in this area of family law.

Termination of Alimony Upon Remarriage

Under New Jersey Revised Statute 2A:34-25, if an ex-spouse who is receiving open durational or limited duration alimony remarries (or enters into a civil union), the alimony obligation on the part of the payor spouse “shall terminate.” There are few, if any, exceptions to this termination rule, and therefore, the risk to the spouse receiving alimony is very high when he or she decides to remarry. Alimony termination for remarriage is permanent. So if the newly remarried person’s spouse dies shortly after the remarriage, or the new marriage is annulled or ends in divorce, the alimony may not be reinstated. In effect the remarrying spouse is taking a double leap of faith as they are permanently cutting off a court-ordered income source when they remarry. It should be noted that even though alimony may be terminated upon remarriage, any arrearages due to the recipient spouse are not waived or nullified by the remarriage.

In the event that the payor spouse remarries their alimony obligation does not cease, even if the new marriage creates financial obligations that make it difficult for the payor spouse to continue to meet his or her alimony obligation. The only option for a payor spouse in this situation is to seek a modification. However, the simple fact of remarriage does not, by itself, constitute a condition that warrants modification. A payor spouse will have to show true economic hardship, usually by circumstances outside of his or her control, to have a chance of modifying alimony.

Termination of Alimony Upon Death

It is a standard rule of divorce law, also based upon New Jersey Revised Statute 2A:34-25, that the obligation to pay or receive alimony terminates upon the death of either ex-spouse. As with remarriage, however, arrearages due to the recipient spouse may still be recovered from or paid to the estate of the deceased spouse.

Due to the immediate termination of alimony upon death, it is easy to see how the alimony payor’s death can result in economic hardship for the payee spouse. If a payee spouse has no work experience or is disabled, automatic termination by the sudden death of the payor ex-spouse may leave a payee ex-spouse destitute. Similarly, if the payee spouse is retired and is relying on the alimony payments to meet their needs death of the payor spouse can lead them to financial ruin. To protect against this type of economic calamity divorce orders routinely require the payor spouse to obtain life insurance naming the payee spouse as beneficiary to protect the alimony stream of income in case of the payor’s death.

Discuss an Alimony Matter with a Bergen County Lawyer

If you are already divorced or going through a divorce, it is critical to understand how remarriage and death may affect alimony payments. Whether you are paying or receiving alimony, if you need help or advice on these issues, contact Bergen County alimony attorney Brian D. Iton at (201) 731-3086 or toll-free at (844) 431-3380. You can also use the contact form on this website to set up a free appointment with a divorce attorney. Brian D. Iton represents people throughout Bergen, Hudson, Essex, and Passaic Counties, including in Hackensack, Newark, Paterson, and Jersey City.